Instant Replay: Giants' comeback falls short in Game 1 loss


Instant Replay: Giants' comeback falls short in Game 1 loss


SAN FRANCISCO A couple of two-run homers by David Freese and Carlos Beltran, and a shutdown performance by the Cardinals' bullpen led St. Louis to a 6-4 win over the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday night at AT&T Park.
Starter Madison Bumgarner was generally ineffective in just 3.2 innings of work, while the Giants' offense scored four runs in the fourth inning but none in the other eight combined. San Francisco managed to keep the game interesting with a furious fourth after staking the Cardinals an early 6-0 lead, but a combination of six St. Louis relievers after starter Lance Lynns exit baffled the Giants hitters.
The Giants are still looking for their first home win of the postseason, after dropping the first two games of the NLDS to Cincinnati. They fell to 4-2 all-time in Game 1 of the championship series.
Starting pitching report
Neither the Giants Bumgarner nor St. Louis Lynn made it through the fourth inning, although Lynn was charged with just four runs to Bumgarners six.
Bumgarner was pulled in the fourth after he watched Beltrans two-out, two-run homer clear the fence in left field. All six Cardinals runs were earned, and came on eight hits surrendered by the San Francisco starter, who walked one and struck out two. It was a battle all night for Bumgarner, who also surrendered a two-run blast to Freese in the second inning that seemed to leave the yard in the blink of an eye.
Lynn, on the other hand, cruised through his first three before unraveling in the bottom of the fourth. Marco Scutaro got the Giants first hit to lead off the inning, but Lynn quickly struck out Pablo Sandoval and got Buster Posey to fly out to right. The Giants got four straight hits after that, though, and Lynns night was over after 3.2 innings, four earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
Bullpen report
The Giants' bullpen was just as effective as the Cards, keeping St. Louis off of the board for 5.1 innings after Bumgarners exit. George Kontos came on in relief of Bumgarner in the fourth, and retired the one batter he faced. Tim Lincecum pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt, while Santiago Casilla and Jose Mijares pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively.
Mitchell Boggs worked a 1-2-3 eighth before Jason Motte recorded the save, giving up only a two-out single to Angel Pagan. Edward Mujica was credited with the win.
At the plate
Gregor Blanco had the biggest hit for the Giants in the fourth, when his two-out triple to the deepest part of the field in right-center plated Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. That was the highlight of the night for the Giants, however, who didnt score after that.
Scutaro was the only Giants player with more than one hit on the night, going 2-for-5.
St. Louis second baseman Daniel Descalso was 2-for-4, and no other Cardinals player had more than one hit.
In the field
Each clubs second baseman made a key defensive play.
After Lynn was pulled in the fourth inning in favor of Joe Kelly, Descalso kept the damage to a minimum when he made a diving stop on a grounder by Pagan and flipped it to shortstop Pete Kozma for a force out of Aubrey Huff, stranding Blanco on third.
With one on and one out in the top of the fifth and Lincecum pitching, Scutaro helped start a double-play on a sharp grounder up the middle by Freese.
Blancos sliding catch in the top of the sixth on Skip Schumaker with two out was arguably the defensive play of the game.
Sandoval committed the only error in the game on a bad throw to first base on Yadier Molinas grounder with one out in the top of the eighth.
Up next
Ryan Vogelsong will get the ball for the Giants opposing St. Louis Chris Carpenter in Game 2 on Monday, before the series shifts to Busch Stadium for games three through five.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

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The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

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Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

ST. PAUL – On paper, Timo Meier’s production after he was reassigned to the AHL Barracuda on Feb. 16 was down. The former first-round pick had just six points (3g, 3a) in 14 games, and was scoreless in his last five, a far cry from what he was doing there earlier in the season and way off his numbers in juniors.

But at just 20 years old, Meier is still in the learning phase of his professional career. And as impressive as the Barracuda have been this season, they’re still playing in a developmental league, first and foremost. Meier got a chance to work on some of the aspects of his game he needed to work on.

“It was obviously hard going back,” said Meier, who has three goals and two assists in 28 games, before Tuesday’s game in Minnesota. “Sometimes you go back there and you try too much, but they told me to work on some things in my game, and I tried to do that.

“For me, going down there it was all about learning stuff on the ice, off the ice. … It’s my first year [in pro hockey], so as a young guy you want to learn and listen to the coaches, too. Just get better.”

Coach Pete DeBoer went into pretty good detail on what the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft needed to do with the Barracuda, and what he needs to show now that he’s back in the NHL.

“I think with a lot of big, talented young guys, they have to realize when they can make an extra play with the puck and when they have to chip it in,” DeBoer said. “They’re so used to dominating at the levels they’ve been at for so long, that [it’s] easier said than done. It’s habits you have to learn, and you don’t learn unless you’re doing them on a consistent basis.”

Meier’s shot selection, too, is something that needed some improvement, according to the coach. While the power winger might be generating plenty of shot attempts, no doubt pleasing the advanced stats crowd, there’s more to being an effective forward than running up numbers on the Excel spreadsheets.

“You don’t want to shoot [just] to shoot up here, or to just get shots on net. You’re not scoring on NHL goalies like you are on junior goalies from 30 or 40 feet out,” DeBoer said. “You’ve got to pick your spots. Sometimes you have to look for a better play than a shot.”

Meier said: “It’s a really tough league. As a young guy coming in, sometimes you’ve got to stay patient, too, try not [to do] too much. … Sometimes I tried [to do] a little too much.”

Meier has been in the Sharks’ lineup for each of the last two games. He started on the fourth line before getting bumped up to Tomas Hertl’s third line on Monday in Dallas, and returned to the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley for Tuesday’s tilt in Minnesota. He is scoreless with two shots on goal over those two games.

He could be a temporary fill in for Jannik Hansen, who remains out with an upper body injury but could potentially return before the end of the road trip this weekend. Or, perhaps Meier does enough to stick around for the stretch run and the playoffs. There would seem to be an opportunity to push someone else out of the lineup, as the Sharks’ depth scoring has been a season-long problem.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, getting that chance again later on in the season,” Meier said. “I want to put it all on the ice, leave it all out there and just make the best out of every shift I get. Play my game, play within my strengths, [do] the things that got me here, and I’m sure I’ll be successful like that.”